While many believe that a speech therapist cannot help non-verbal people, but that could not be further from the truth. When, actually, you would be doing your non-verbal child a disservice by denying them a “voice.”
It is essential for people who have limited communication abilities to learn how to ask for their daily needs to others. It can feel incredibly limiting not being able to vocalize your needs. It limits your ability to interact with others and make decisions, closing you off from the world. Here are some ways a speech therapist can help a nonverbal child:
Improve Other Methods of Communication
A speech therapist can help a child communicate better with non-verbal communication strategies such as gestures, approximations, vocalizations, and sign language. They use a comprehensive communication approach with children through various forms of communication. By using gestures, writing, typing, speech, eye contact, and facial expressions, non-verbal children have more avenues to use to communicate with others. It is essential for non-verbal children to be able to use other methods to communicate in addition to formal methods such as tapping someone on the shoulder or using hand gestures for being hungry or needing to use the washroom.
Special Assistance with Social Skills
For your child to effectively communicate with others in their community, they must develop the appropriate social skills. When a child has little to no functional speech, their pragmatic language skills are usually delayed. Pragmatics gives language context, allowing the listener to understand the true meaning behind a phrase. For example, when someone asks you if you can pass the salt, they are not literally asking whether you can do the task or not. Instead, they are asking you to give them the salt.
Another critical factor in developing the right social skills is a child’s teeth. Oral care is essential for being able to articulate sounds and words correctly. Having missing teeth or a problematic jaw can make speech formation difficult. There are various strategies and tools a speech therapist has at their disposal such as role-playing, using social stories, speech therapy apps, and video modelling all help target social skills. It is vital to use aided communication along with these tools to improve your child’s social skills.
Speech is not the only targeted skill during speech therapy. Language is a crucial part of it as well since speech therapy is more than just speech. Most therapists target concepts such as actions, categorization, grammar, comprehension, sequencing, pronoun usage, and so much more. Its goal is to get your child talking correctly.
Speech-language pathologists help children find a way to communicate through speech therapy. They have a duty to non-verbal children to provide them with a method that makes it easier for them to use aided and unaided communication like tech devices, apps, and traditional books.
To help your non verbal child communicate with their peers and get more involved in their community, contact Shelley Ortved. She has years of experience helping children of several age groups with varying degrees of speech impediments.